New event format launches at Australian Open
By SEAN REUTHE
The Professional Squash Association’s (PSA) new tour structure will come into effect tomorrow (August 1) with the Australian Open becoming the first tournament to be held in this new era for professional squash.
The new structure will establish a new and exciting image for the PSA World Tour, which will continue to showcase the sport’s biggest tournaments and best players.
The recently rebranded PSA Challenger Tour will be launched alongside the PSA World Tour to create a strong identity for lower-tier tournaments and will feature aspiring youngsters working their way up the PSA World Rankings.
The new tour structure has been put in place with the aim of increasing earnings and playing opportunities across both tours, while the PSA will offer more support for tournament promoters to assist them with the successful delivery of tournaments.
The world’s greatest players will continue to compete at the sport’s most prestigious tournaments on the PSA World Tour – such as the PSA World Championships and PSA World Tour Finals – across the globe and prize money will range from $47,500 – $1,000,000. By the 2022-2023 season, it is envisaged that the PSA World Tour will feature up to 35 tournaments for men and women.
New tournament tiers have been created on the PSA World Tour. The first PSA World Tour Platinum tournament will be the FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships in October, while the J.P. Morgan China Open will be the first PSA World Tour Gold event in September.
The women’s Oracle NetSuite Open later that month will be the first PSA World Tour Silver event, while the prestigious Carol Weymuller Open, which takes place in October, has the honour of being the first ever PSA World Tour Bronze tournament.
PSA World Tour events held on all-glass courts will be broadcast live around the world, while in September the Open International de squash de Nantes will become the first PSA Challenger Tour event to be broadcast live.
On the PSA World Tour, Platinum tournaments will feature 48-player draws, and Gold, Silver and Bronze tournaments will feature 24-player draws. Tournaments on the PSA Challenger Tour will range from 16-24 player draws, while qualification rounds will be scrapped on both tours.
The 2018-19 PSA World Championships in Chicago – which will become the first tournament in professional squash to offer a prize purse of $1 million – will be held in February and will feature a 64-player draw. The draw will consist of 56 PSA entrants and a wildcard, with the other places being granted to winners of selected ‘qualifier’ tournaments on the PSA Challenger Tour and WSF invitees.
Prize money on the PSA Challenger Tour ranges from $5,500-$28,000 and tiers consist of PSA Challenger Tour 30, 20, 10 and 5. A round robin format will be available for use at Challenger Tour 5 tournaments throughout the 2018-19 season.
As part of the new tour structure, the PSA have also formed the WSF and PSA Satellite Tour in partnership with the World Squash Federation, designed to ease the transition from World, Regional, National and Junior tournaments to professional squash. In addition, the creation of a global ranking system for Under-19 and Under-17 players will create a pathway for the best up-and-coming juniors from across the globe.
“We are delighted to officially begin using our new tour structure and are confident that it will have a hugely positive impact on the growth of professional squash,” said PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough.
“A record prize money total of $6.4 million was on offer during the 2017-18 season, an 11% increase on the previous season, while memberships are at an all-high, with over 900 registered members of the PSA. We are confident that the changes to our tour structure will help us continue along the same trajectory.”
PSA Tour Director Hannah Ridgard-Mason said: “These changes will help us to market the PSA World Tour as the sport’s pinnacle, while the introduction of the PSA Challenger Tour and WSF & PSA Satellite Tours will enable us to increase earnings and playing opportunities for up-and-coming players, in addition to giving them a natural pathway to the PSA World Tour.
“We are also pleased to be able to offer tournament promoters more support than ever before and look forward to working with them in the coming years as we continue to grow professional squash.”
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Article by SEAN REUTHE (PSA PR and Media Manager). Edited by ALAN THATCHER.
Picture and graphic courtesy of PSA